I have spent more years than I care to count stuck in a very dark fog of mental illness. While stuck there I did a lot of things that I hoped would help, like seeking treatment in various forms, getting support from others, reading lots of books, and a fair bit of navel gazing. It’s not like I was sitting there doing nothing all that time, although I’m sure there were many who thought that was exactly what I was doing. There were also a lot of times when really all I was doing, was making a bad situation worse. ‘One step forward, two steps back’ seemed my pattern but I couldn’t actually see how to make it better.
There were two possibilities in terms of the future of my life (if that is what I chose). One was that this was my lot of life. Life would always be this bad and dark, and there was no point even contemplating that things would get better. The other possibility for me was that one day I would wake up and everything would be ‘back to normal’. My life as it was when I first got sick, would somehow, magically be restored and I would go back to how things were.
Actually I realise now that neither of those options is what I want for my life. I certainly wouldn’t want to remain in that dismal fog, but neither would I want my life back as it was. As far as I’m concerned that Cate has gone, and actually thankfully won’t be coming back. I want more than she was. I want something so much better.
I also realise now that the new life I want isn’t just going to appear magically. Instead, as well as the continuing treatment, I need to make some choices for my life. I need to work out what is important, and what I think is worth fighting for. If I want that much better life, there are some risks involved for me. To gain the advantage of a fulfilling and satisfying life I have to take risks that I thought I would never take again. Things I always said I would never do again, I would need to try.
For some time now I have had this growing sense of health (which you have no idea how exciting this is) and I had this vague notion with it that I would discover my purpose for life. Then a few days ago I was talking with a friend who is very depressed and she couldn’t see what possible purpose there was for her life. It made me start to think about that seemingly magical purpose for life I was going to discover. What I’ve realised in thinking about it is that I make the purpose as I go along. It’s the same as sitting waiting for happiness. I believe that I have to get out there and make it happen, and I’m coming to the conclusion that I will make my purpose as I go.
If you’d asked me about that six weeks ago, you would have got an entirely different answer. Then I was just waiting for it to magically happen. Now I’m starting to realise that it’s within my power to make my life purposeful (and great fun too! :-)). Don’t get me wrong though. I know that when stuck in the middle of that mental fog, it is hard to see it. I believe that the way I have gotten through is to stop fretting about the global picture of my life, start focusing on specifics that I could actually impact, and most importantly take one step at a time. Sounds simple but actually when you try it, you realise it is a constant challenge, but a good one. It is a new way of life.
The next question I come up against is what do I do now?
Again, I was dumb enough to think all this would happen by some form of osmosis but I’m realising that I’ve got some choices to make about my life. My life has been pretty ‘dead’ for years but I’m not prepared to accept that anymore. I’m not even prepared to accept ‘life as it is”. I want life to be the goddamned best that it can possibly be! Why shouldn’t I have that? I realise now that actually I deserve this, as much as anyone, so why would I settle for second best? I shouldn’t. And I’m not going to. I need to work out what makes me come alive, and go out and do it.
It brings me back to the risks again, because certainly there are risks. I might fall flat on my face or someone else might trip me up so I fall flat on my face. These are distinct possibilities, and actually in my experience they almost rate as probabilities. But I’ve spent too many years not living, being dead. I want to be alive and as I am finding the people and things that help me feel alive, it is those people and things I want in my life.
No more second best. Yes, the risks might hurt badly if they go wrong but unless I try I will never know. And imagine the joy if it goes right. It has to be worth it for me. I seriously don’t want to get to the end of life and be wondering what could have been. I’ve come to the conclusion that those risks are worth it, and getting what makes me feel alive is worth fighting for.
NB. Apologies to those who follow my Facebook page, for the repeat of the images posted. When I posted them there earlier in the week they had a big impact on me and I decided to use them again here too. They perfectly sum up what is on my mind.
- Touch (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- What Love Isn’t (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Happiness Is… (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- What is Courage? (stephenlimeetak.wordpress.com)